The hidden costs of social media for brands

By Ayaz Lakhani, Senior Strategist  |  Feb 4, 2016


To keep up with customers, companies need to have their fingers on the pulse of the ever-changing social-media landscape, and adapt to the latest and greatest platforms.

While they may employ individuals who know how to use social media for themselves, personal experience doesn’t necessarily translate into successful brand strategies.

We’ve seen how things can take a turn for the worse when companies share content publicly by accident, or without adequately planning or reviewing it. Maintaining a healthy and effective online presence for brands requires much more thought and effort than it does for an individual. It requires ongoing planning, consistent management, and, in working with experts who can handle the moving parts, a decent budget.

From platform selection to content recommendations on a per channel basis, a brand needs a tailored playbook that best suits its needs and objectives. Here we break out the elements—and cost buckets—associated with setting up and running a successful social-media account:

Strategic planning (preliminary)

Ensures that proper strategies and procedures are in place to set your brand up for success.

  • Process development (roles, responsibilities, dependencies, timelines, etc.)
  • Brand guidelines (do’s and don’ts, brand voice, etc.)
  • Target market and competitive analysis
  • Industry and platform best practices (e.g. posting multiple times a day on LinkedIn vs. once or twice a day on Facebook)
  • Optimal resource allocation

Creative development (ongoing)

Ensures that there is enough inventory of content in the pipeline to be used for selected social platforms.

  • Asset collation/curation
  • Asset development (photography, videography, copywriting, editing, etc.)
  • Content calendar (holidays, special events, marketing launches, real-time reactive posts)
  • Client/legal reviews

Management and optimization (ongoing)

Ensures day-to-day operations, monthly KPI reporting, and ongoing performance optimization.

  • Community management and active engagement
  • Analytics reporting, analysis and insights
  • Optimization (A/B and multivariate testing) 

Damage control (ad hoc)

Addresses potential social media blunders or unexpected issues.

When you multiply all of these costs by the number of your brand’s social accounts, they add up fairly quickly. While it’s possible to achieve some economies of scale by recycling content across channels, many platforms require unique and relevant content for best results. (Marketers used to think that all channels should look and feel the same, but that level of consistency can actually be detrimental to your brand.)

Different social channels offer varying levels of exposure to your brand, so why not take advantage of them? Just be aware that it’s not the same as doing it free of cost for yourself.


Topics: content marketing, marketing strategy, brands, social media

Ayaz Lakhani, Senior Strategist

Ayaz Lakhani, Senior Strategist

Ayaz weaves creative ideas and insights into action-inducing narratives. He solves problems and delivers effective solutions through a combination of research, analytics, and intuition. Ayaz has worked on a number of B2B and B2C accounts, including Google, Intel, VMware, Belvedere, Ansell, Madison Square Garden, and Weill Cornell Medical College. Prior to working at Ready State, Ayaz was a founding partner and senior strategist at BRICK+BOND, a New York-based digital agency. He has a master's degree in integrated marketing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Wilfrid Laurier University.